When you look for financial advice, there is no shortage of it in the media. A few financial advisors have become household names through television shows and books. It takes determination to become a successful financial advisor, so it is no surprise that three of the most successful financial advisors have overcome shocking hurdles.
Suze Orman: Rags to Riches
Now worth approximately $35 million, it might be surprising to some that Suze Orman once lived out of her van and worked for a mere $3.50 an hour clearing trees back in 1973. She developed her strong work ethic when she was a child, living on the south side of Chicago. Her father owned a delicatessen in Hyde Park called Morry’s Deli, where she and her brothers worked every day after school from 1960 to 1973, when she left the University of Illinois for greener pastures in California.
It was by chance that Orman worked as a tree clearer for two months in Berkeley, California. While driving, Orman and a friend were stopped by a road crew that was clearing debris from the road. After approaching the foreman, Orman and her friend were hired as labor for Coley Tree Service. It was during these two months that Orman and her friend were homeless and lived in her van. After her stint in tree clearing, Orman became a waitress at Buttercup Bakery to work her way through college. She was a favorite among the regulars, and after learning of her dream to own her own restaurant, they pooled $50,000 of their own money to help her jump-start her business.
Orman invested the money, only to lose it after three months due to the dealings of a bad financial advisor. On top of losing her investment, she also developed a taste for credit cards and managed to find herself in debt upwards of $250,000. Determined to get her money back for her customers, she applied herself and became a financial advisor at the very firm that lost her money. She had a knack for financial advising and eventually became vice president of investments at Prudential Financial Inc. (NYSE: PRU) before founding the Suze Orman Financial Group. She never forgot where she came from, as she paid back every single penny of her $50,000 loan to her former restaurant customers.
Dave Ramsey: Burdened by Bankruptcy
In 1988, Dave Ramsey was earning approximately $250,000 a year and worth a little over $1 million. He had invested over $4 million in real estate, and he and his wife were having fun with life. Soon it all came crashing down, as the Ramseys came to the unsettling realization that they had mismanaged their money so badly that they were faced with the prospect of filing for bankruptcy. Not seeing any other way out, they filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and then watched their world fall apart. The Ramseys had too much short-term debt, and even after fighting it for 36 months, they lost everything they had. It was through this hellish journey that Dave Ramsey decided that he would learn how to properly handle his money. He set out on his journey, bolstered by his Christian beliefs. He started Ramsey Solutions in 1992 to help teach others what he had learned and is famous for his most basic lesson: The 7 Baby Steps to Financial Security.
Mellody Hobson: Basic Survival
Mellody Hobson was the youngest child of a single mother in Chicago. Her mother was a entrepreneur who renovated condominiums for rent or for sale. While her mother was hard-working, she had a soft heart and couldn’t bear to evict residents who were unable to pay their rent, landing the family into debt. She also preferred to shop and would buy her children extravagant clothes and toys instead of paying the bills. Mellody Hobson and her siblings were bounced from the north and south side of Chicago as her mother’s financial stability waned. At one particularly low point, Mellody Hobson heated up water for a bath on a hot plate in the kitchen. It was these evictions that motivated her to succeed, vowing never to be placed in that situation again. She calls her career drive one of "basic survival." Hobson rose through the academic and professional ranks, and she currently chairs numerous philanthropic charities, is a board member for three companies including DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc.
(NASDAQ: DWA), and is the president of Ariel Investments.